May 7, 2014 Last Updated 3:51 pm

Tumblr updates mobile app to add customization tools

When Yahoo announced that it has purchased Tumblr for $1.1 billion a year ago, I realized that there was definitely some areas of the business that were beyond my understanding. I never “got” Tumblr, seeing it as pretty uninteresting compared to other blogging platforms. It was, for me, the Mao suit of platforms: everything looking plain, simple, and the same.

Tumblr-iPhone5-lgThat didn’t stop major publishers from jumping on board and creating their own Tumblr blogs. Still, my own thought was that it was a me-too kind of platform and that those who started their Tumblr blogs would simply start new blogs on the next platform that came around. Then came Medium.

But one can not argue with success (if success is measured by the total number of users). At time Yahoo’s acquisition 300 million users and 108 million blogs. Today, there are 184 million blogs. That is still impressive growth.

It’s obvious that the problem with getting Tumblr lies with me: I’m a print guy who then moved to digital. I like design, customization, options. Freedom, in other words.

Well, Tumblr has updated its mobile app and it is moving in the direction, as well. The new update for its universal iOS app is all about allowing users to control the look of their blog and their profile.

“I think that right now, the Valley is very tuned for communication, social, and very utilitarian tools, and I think a lot of that is built around their ‘engineers will show us the way’ mindset, where something we’ve always tried to instill here, and always tried to hire for, is that the creators are going to show us the way. We’re here to empower them,” Tumblr founder David Karp told The Verge (and their post on the update is thorough – no need to duplicate it here).

I’m still not sold on the idea of major publishers publishing on someone else’s property, be it Flipboard or whatever. It feels like working for free. But at least Tumblr feels like it is getting more interesting…. if $1.1 billion wasn’t interesting enough.

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